North Carolina State Parks

RALEIGH ? North Carolina?s state parks and state recreation areas reported near-record visitation in 2010, with 14 million visits, slightly below the all-time record of 14.2 million visits in 2009, according to the N.C Division of Parks and Recreation.

Among 39 state parks and state recreation areas, 21 reported increases in attendance in 2009. More than a half million campers were registered during the year. Jockey?s Ridge State Park in Dare County reported the highest attendance at 1.47 million visits, an increase of 3 percent from last year.
A 2008 economic study revealed that travelers spend an average $23.56 a day to enjoy the state parks. The analysis by North Carolina State University?s Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management estimated the state parks system?s total annual economic impact at more than $400 million.
During the past 25 years, the state parks system has seen a 112 percent increase in visitation. In 1985, 6.6 million people visited state parks and state recreation areas.
The state parks system manages more than 215,000 acres, including 35 state parks and four state recreation areas and a system of state natural areas dedicated to conservation of rare resources. Through its New Parks for a New Century initiative, six new state parks have been added to the system since 2003.
Parks with significant increases in visitation included Hanging Rock State Park in Stokes County (38 percent), New River State Park in Ashe and Alleghany counties (31 percent), Goose Creek State Park in Beaufort County (29 percent) and Pettigrew State Park in Washington and Tyrell counties (26 percent).

State park officials said extreme weather is frequently a factor in attendance. A period of extreme heat in July and August 2010 likely contributed to a dip in visitation in those months, as did cold weather and early-season snow in December.
In Western North Carolina, Chimney Rock State Park saw a 6 percent increase, with more than 214,000 visitors in 2010. Gorges State Park saw a 1 percent increase, with more than 75,000 visitors. Mount Mitchell State Park saw a 7 percent increase, with more than 345,000 visitors.

Lake James State Park saw a 13 percent decrease in visitation, with more than 335,000 visitors.

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